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Devereux Early Childhood Assessment Program (DECA)

LeBuffe, P.A., & Naglieri, J.A. (1999). Devereux Early Childhood Assessment Program (DECA). The Devereux Foundation. Lewisville, NC: Kaplan Press.

The DECA is a standardized, norm-referenced behavior rating scale that measures resilience in preschool children ages 2-5. Resilience is defined as the ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change. The test forms are available in English or Spanish. It is an assessment instrument designed to support young children's social and emotional development and to enhance the overall quality of early childhood programs.

The DECA meets professional standards for assessment instruments established by the American Psychological Association (APA) and the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Based on the results of research on the characteristics of resilient children, the DECA includes 3 scales measuring attachment, self-control, and initiative; and also a behavioral concerns scale. The DECA was normed on a representative, nationwide sample of 2,000 children.

The DECA Program Kit contains DECA record forms, technical manual, user's guide, classroom strategies guide, a guide for families, and an observation journal for planning.

The DECA is to be completed by a parent or teacher during a quiet time when there are few distractions. Ratings should be based on direct observation of the child; the rater should not consider behaviors reported in other classrooms. The rater should consider only those behaviors observed to occur in the last four weeks and avoid comparing the child to other children; the rating should be based on the number of times the child exhibited the behavior, not how frequently in comparison to other children. One rater should answer all items; if one rater cannot complete them all, another rater should be used. The same form is used for both parent and teacher raters.

The DECA is based on the ratings of a single adult. A different rater might observe different behaviors in another setting, so DECA scores should always be interpreted in the light of other information (e.g., other test results; user's observations of the child; parent and teacher reports). One useful approach is to obtain results from more than one rater. Knowledge of the family's heritage and traditions will result in richer interpretations of scores and more useful suggestions to both parents and teachers for enhancing the child's protective factors.

Devereux Early Childhood Assessment.
Kaplan Companies
PO Box 609
Lewisville NC 27023-2014

For information on development of the DECA Program and training options:
Devereux Early Childhood Initiative
444 Devereux Drive
Villanova, PA 19085
Toll-free: 1-866-TRAIN US
Website:, click on "DECA Program"

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